Authorities in the city of Shanghai reported on March 11 that at least 3,300 dead pigs had been found floating in the Huangpu River, which is the major source of water for the city’s 23 million population. The story shocked many Chinese, who worried understandably about the implications for public health and puzzled over the question of how farmers upstream were able to discharge such a large number of dead pigs into the river without notice. The above cartoon, posted by artist Du Shi Xiong (大尸凶的漫画) to Sina Weibo, is a mock movie poster referencing director Ang Lee‘s recent blockbuster Life of Pi. The poster pictures the film (and book’s) main character, Indian storyteller Pi Patel, drifting on his life raft not with the male Bengal tiger “Richard Parker” but with scores of dead pigs. The water all around him is also littered with dead pigs.
This cartoon is one of quite a few now circulating on Sina Weibo using the “Life of Pi” movie poster meme to explore the story of Shanghai’s dead pigs. The following is another posted by Gou Ben (勾犇漫画) today. In this one, Pi Patel wears a heavy-duty safety mask to protect himself from the smog (another health issue of great concern to the Chinese public) while the tiger “Richard Parker” leaps headlong into a river teeming with dead pigs and screams: “Here’s some meat to eat. If it kills me, at least I’ll die of a bloated stomach!”